Poaching suspects include Homecoming King and Queen candidates.
A month-long investigation into poaching activity has led to various poaching charges and loss of hunting rights for four people in Montana.
Elisha Rulison, 21, Tyler Adams, 20, Janelle Baird, 20, and James Rulison, 20, were all charged for violations that resulted in the illegal taking of eight deer in Hill County from September to late October this year.
The bucks taken were all allegedly shot while spotlighting and with rifles before the season started. “This was not an instance where a single deer was killed by a person who made a minor mistake,” Game Warden Andy Matakis said in a press release. “This was a group of people who killed eight large bucks, some of them trophies, over the course of 23 days.”
Matakis said the suspects shot the deer with rifles using artificial lights. Additionally, most were shot from country roads.
Each of the suspected poachers was hit with different charges in the case. Charges included hunting during a closed season, unlawful use of artificial lights while hunting, unlawful hunting from a public road and unlawful possession of big game animals, and killing over big game limits.
And officials aren’t going easy on the four in this case. Elisha Rulison was hit with $1,157 in fines and $2,120 in restitution for killing four deer. Adams received $877 in fines and $1,120 restitution for killing two deer. Baird got $490 in fines and $500 in fines for killing one deer illegally. James Rulison received $305 in fines and $500 restitution.
Elisha Rulison, and Adams will also get jail time in the case. And the two of them, along with Baird, lost all hunting privileges for life in Montana and 48 additional states under an interstate wildlife violator compact. James Rulison lost his privileges for 11 years.
In an additional interesting tidbit, the Billings Gazette reports Baird and James Rulison were nominees for Montana State University Northern Homecoming King and Queen.
It seems likely the harsh penalties are meant to make the four serve as an example to any other potential poachers. “This took a great deal of harvest opportunities away from the sportsmen of Montana,” Matakis said.